Happy harvest everyone!

We have officially kicked off the 2017 vintage here at Bergström Wines.  2017 marks my 21st year of making wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Being that I am now 42 years old, I guess that means I have now been doing this for half of my life.  Time flies when you are having fun I guess.

racking chardonnay juice to barrel

After one of the coldest, harshest, darkest and wettest winters in recent memory, Oregon’s Willamette Valley experienced one of the driest and warmest summers with extreme temperature peaks and a lot of forest fire smoke from more than 18 active fires in our cascade range and in the Columbia River Gorge.

Mother nature gave us a bumper crop this year with larger clusters that were heavy and dense.  So we have dropped crop already three times in our vineyards to bring yields back down to a qualitative point for winemaking targeting 2.25 tons per acre in Pinot Noir and 2.75-3.0 tons per acre for Chardonnay.  The fruit this year is very healthy although we had a fair amount of disease pressure in the spring with wet days and warm humid conditions.

happy intern team sampling fruit

September 7th, we started our harvest with Chardonnay as we are looking for higher acids and lower sugars with this varietal for our Sigrid program.  The quality is very high and we were able to pick our Chardonnay blocks from Le Pre du Col, Winery Block, Bergstrom Vineyard and Silice at the perfect moment where natural acidities were beautiful and natural alcohol potential was 12.5-13.0%.  This could be a fantastic year for Oregon Chardonnay!

We have yet to pick our Gregory Ranch and Temperance Hill Chardonnays as these cooler sites with higher elevations are still not yet ready but are well poised to provide us with excellent brightness of acidity and concentration of flavors as we look to pick them this week.

We started our Pinot Noir harvest with Bergström Vineyard blocks 1 and 2 per tradition and then we picked some Silice Vineyard from block 4 which is also one of the first on an annual tradition.  As in many of our recent  years all tanks are being filled with 100% whole clusters of Pinot Noir.  There is no destemming so that our wines can undergo a slight carbonic maceration and then undergo their alcoholic fermentations with stem inclusion to coax out the savory and the saline expression from our Biodynamic vineyard sites.

The Syrah from Les Collines in Walla Walla was also harvested this week to kick off the gargantua harvest and it looked beautiful.  For those of you who do not know, we trade a little bit of fruit with Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss from Gramercy Cellars.  We give them some Le Pré du Col Pinot Noir which they bottle for their club members and we get Les Collines Syrah in return which we bottle as our Washington gargantua label syrah alongside the California Syrah from Bien Nacido Vineyard and the Oregon Syrah from Symbion and Folin Vineyards.

harvesting silice

The first rain of the harvest blew in two days ago and dropped about 3/4 to one inch of rain in the form of dramatic showers with thunderstorms and windy conditions.  It finally feels like fall, the smoke from the fires has cleared out and the leaves on trees are beginning to turn color.  After all, we saw more than 80 days without rain in the Willamette Valley this summer, so a little fall shower really feels refreshing.

This week we look to really jump into the harvest literally with both feet as we plan on harvesting most of the Bergström Vineyard, Le Pré du Col, The Winery Block and Silice.

Stay tuned!  And I wish all of my friends and colleagues a spectacular harvest for 2017.  May all of your vinification dreams come true.

Silice Chardonnay on harvest day